Founded in 1995, the network was one of the first of its kind in the private sector in the UK and was the first of our employee-led networks at EY. It started out as a small group of individuals looking to come together for mutual support, but the network has grown in scale and scope and now forms an important part of our work on Diversity and Inclusion.
Over the years the network has been an agitator for change and a sounding board for new ideas. When we introduced ‘self-identification’ on our HR system, the network was actively involved; when we introduced our Gender identity, expression and transition guidelines, the network (specifically our trans and non-binary members) was consulted and was at the forefront of our work around engaging with allies.
As the LGBT+ networks across EY grew in number around the world, we brought them together in 2014 under a single common identity – Unity. This global ‘network-of-networks' continues to grow and has become a powerful voice within the organisation.
We now have over 4,750 members in over 77 countries and territories around the world, including Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Argentina, Colombia, USA, Canada, Mexico, France, South Africa, Netherlands to name a few. Over 700 of those members are in the UK and Ireland, ensuring that the legacy of the original founders lives on.
We also use digital platforms to help connect our colleagues in places where there aren’t established Unity networks.
In 2019 EY was a supporter of World Pride in New York, which was a great opportunity to further raise the profile of our LGBT+ activities around the world. For example, EY commissioned research with New York University – called Opening up the world – that explored how global organisations can ‘level-up’ their support for LGBT+ equality.
Our Unity networks were at the forefront of our World Pride activities. They have also been leading our work supporting the United Nations LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business and at the World Economic Forum supporting EY’s co-founding of the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality.
A lot has been achieved in 25 years, but there is still more to do and I’m very proud to see Unity continuing to help us drive this agenda forward.